Season 4: I'm Already There

Twang-twang-twang... are you ready, America? Ryan Sleazebag announces that there are only three more weeks until the finale and America makes the call (literally, that is) as to who will be the new American Idol. Of course, from a selection of a lifeless robotic blonde, a prepubescent-looking albino kid that appeals only to pedophiles and teenaged girls below the age of fifteen, a tone-deaf diva, and a manly handsome but wildly inconsistent rocker dude, it may be a little tough for the audience to make a decision. The audience will have time during the credits to get ready for the show's telling them who to vote for. Hint: it won't be Vonzell or Trachea Boi.

Ryan "Botox, Silicon, or Me?" Sleazebag walks out onto the stage in a black suit and a T-shirt underneath. The T-shirt has a crown motive emblazoned on it, along with some faint writings that may or may not read "Clucking Queen". As Sleazie basks in the audience's prompted cheerings, the camera zooms around to catch in the signs. I notice "My Idol Can Carrie A Tune" among the many symbols of unrequited love among the audience. Well, Cattle can carry a tune alright but does she have a pulse? That, I believe, is the more pertinent question. Piggy Di Guano received a lot of heat for being too much of a stage pageant in the previous season but she is a much better performer on stage than the lifeless and so transparently insincere Cattle here. Which is why I believe that Cattle is in trouble if it comes to a showdown between her and Bo, by the way: Bo has showmanship and he has some cute, if sometimes awkward, wit to lighten up his interviews. What does Cattle have? A very fake "I am a simple farmgirl" shtick and even more contrived "I, Barbie" mannerisms tailor-made for magazines targetted at fourteen-year old girls.

Anyway, back to the show, Sleazebag asks everyone how the previous week has been. He talks about "lots of shock and outrage" about the show and then "cleverly" says that all the hoopla is due to Ape Boy's ouster. It is only funny if you are expecting him to address head-black the "I, Miss Paula, is a fornicating harlot who sleeps with guys with fleas" controversy, which I don't because I am not born yesterday. Thanks anyway, Sleazie, for making a joke with a punchline only the very gullible will understand, and that is, if they even read about the Idol scandals, which they don't because they are supposed to be gullible and have no life outside Cattle-Trachea Boi romantic fanfics and 'Shipper photoshopped blends. And that is my roundabout way of saying: Sleazebag, shut up.

King Tut and Miss Paula laugh because... I don't know. Maybe they are perusing a blow-up doll catalogue that they have naughtily stolen from Randy Randy's dressing room and realize that all those dolls look more life-like than Cattle. Randy Randy and King Tut point at Miss Paula in a "Hey, look at the harlot, Sleazie, make sure you say something nice to that babboon-shagging woman!" manner and everyone applauds louder. The camera zooms to a sign held by this guy that says "We Love Paula". The show then devotes a few more minutes for people clapping for Miss Paula as she simpers and giggles in a "Oh, you shouldn't have, because I definitely shagged those boys!" manner. Why are they applauding? Why, this show wants everyone to know that Miss Paula did not do all those you-know-what nonsense with Corey's "protein shake" (thank you, Howard Stern), Uncle Nigel's son Simon (not to be confused with King Tut) did not sleep with the Burger Queen and helped her secure the final three spot, and this show is fair and square.

And now, it's time for the introduction of this week's theme. Sleazie in the fake flashback clip walks into the Red Room carrying a map of the USA. He points out Philadelphia and talks about Leiber and Stoller, two guys who write plenty of music back in those days whose music have been sung again and again on this show, only of course they don't let us know that Leiber and Stoller wrote them until now. And then Sleazebag points at Nashville, the place where Cattle's mother gave birth to her in a manger of a very special farm, and points out that the contestants will also be singing songs from the country genre as well as songs by Leiber and Stoller. Those Leiber and Stoller songs that they haven't performed yet, that is. Sleazebag then leaves the Four the map, upon which they proceed to fake-fight for it, with Vonzell pleading pathetically, "Please! Please!" Sleazebag's parting words are that the map costs $150.00. I believe that the show spent more on the map than on the contestants' voice training classes.

The first round will see the Four singing country songs. Before their performance, their family members will be given a chance to embarrass themselves on TV for the Four.

Cattle goes first. Her sisters, Stephanie and Shanna, will fit in right in barnyard, let's just say. They reassure her that her animals are fine on the farm. If her cheating on her boyfriend with the attached-with-girlfriend Trachea Boi doesn't work out, her goats will keep the fire burning at the farm. With that, Cattle launches into the Dixie Chicks' Sin Wagon. I don't know about this one. Her twang sounds atrociously fake, for one, which is surprising since she is supposed to be the epitome of a backward, ignorant farmgirl as she tries to portray herself as on this show. When she asks men to join her on a wagon for a good old time of slap-and-tickle, she comes off like a little girl pretending to be an adult. Amy did a superb version of this song in the last season because Amy managed to project the naughty vibes needed to pull off the song. Then again, Amy never pretended that she has spent all her time at the farm, conveniently omitting how she had toured in Nashville and auditioned for studio executives. This is a very affected and unconvincing performance from Cattle. I love how she manages to stand on the stage all the time when she's asking people to stomp and dance, although she does do some lame kicking motion with one leg when she squawks, "I'm just dancing!"

Randy Randy thinks that Cattle will sell plenty of records if she records that song. I don't think America is that stupid, surely? Miss Paula, who have sneaked a pill or two before the show, slurs a little before stopping in her attempts to speak and just says that she agrees with Randy Randy that it is a "great record". Yeah, it's a record of sorts that Miss Paula managed to remain sober for two shows. King Tut doesn't want to criticize Cattle so he just says that it will be shocking if she screwed up on a country song. But in a way, she did screw up. You don't sing an uptempo song by standing awkwardly on the stage and saying in a fake twang that your wagon is going to be warmed by hot men tonight. What can I say though? For some people, being blonde and pretty is enough. For others, it isn't. King Tut adds that Cattle showed some personality tonight. I agree. The personality is called "Bottomless Black Hole".

After the break, Sleazebag walks among the audience, ignores LaToya and Rank Sinatra, and says hi to Princess Jasmelisma of Hawaii and Mikalah, perky princesses who share lipstick and boy secrets with Sleazie. With that, he introduces Bo.

Da Bice and Ma Bice tell Bo how much they love him and how he doesn't need to worry because they have hidden all the coke in the basement - oops. Ma Bice says that she can't wait to see "what comes out of" Bo's mouth, which may or may not be her coded warning to Bo to make sure that he doesn't leave any tell-tale white powder lines on his upper lip. Bo comes out in his latest Granny Wear and launches into Travis Tritt's It's A Great Day To Be Alive. Is it wise to sing a song that has the lines "Yeah I think I'll make me some homemade soup/Feelin' pretty good, ain't that's the truth/It's neither drink nor drug induced"? Bo slurs his way through the first two lines of the song, obviously having forgotten the words, but otherwise, this is a solid performance of a boring song that does not show off anything of his voice or showmanship. This is a fine song to sing at a wedding reception, for example, but not for a competition.

Randy Randy loves him but he found the performance dull. Miss Paula tells Bo that at this point of the competition he must step up and pick "more challenging" songs to sing. Actually, this is the wrong advice to follow at this stage of the competition, if you ask me, because by this point fans have a clear picture of who or what the contestant is so any attempts to experiment may not go down well with them. King Tut says that the performance was "boring", "lazy", and is comparable to a "jam in a local club". Randy Randy hoots his agreement with King Tut. Sleazebag points out Bo's grandmother seated just behind King Tut and Granny Bice threatens to kick King Tut with Ma Bice's leg. Don't ask.

The camera zooms in on Harry Hamlin and his lady before going to a commercial break. It is great to see such famous celebrities attending the show, isn't it? I hope Macaulay Culkin will one day take time from his busy schedule to grace the show with his presence!

Vonzell's brothers threaten to start buying drugs from Bo and taking them up the wazoo if Vonzell doesn't win. No, really, they love her and they support her, of course they do. One of them tells King Tut to "watch out" because Vonzell will be the next American Idol. If this is in any way related to Vonzell's merciless butchering of Trisha Yearwood's How Do I Live, I agree that the show will have to watch out because it is so getting cancelled if that happens. In this performance, Vonzell has lost all sense of key, it seems, because she is too high during the verses and too low in the choruses. Off-key squeaks creak and wheeze their way in-between every two decent on-key warblings. Towards the end, she gives up trying to sing and just shouts out the rest of the song. Yes, how will she ever survive this travesty?

Why, by crying, of course. Randy Randy says that she stared off poorly but did well towards the end because she screamed and shouted and you know how this show is all about screaming and shouting as Good Singing. Miss Paula asks Vonzell how she is feeling. Vonzell starts crying. The show never releases an official reason but there are rumors that either her father has recently been diagnosed with cancer or Vonzell received news that one of her fans have recently died of cancer. I will take these rumors with a large grain of salt though. Many teenaged fans of this show are so desperately needy to be seen as someone important online that they always pretend to be someone close to the contestants and leak out fake "insider news" to online forums. King Tut says that for the first time in a while Vonzell looked and sounded "incredibly nervous". He leaves it at that because he doesn't want another "She takes drugs!" rumor floating around the media. Sleazebag allows Vonzell to cry some more and express her love for her father - sniff, sniff, sniff - and her daddy calls out that he loves her too. This is a truly strange scene, especially when no one from the show is willing to reveal why Vonzell is crying. ("Maybe she can hear herself singing that song?" suggests hubby.)

Trachea Boi's parents tell him that he is their son (and I certainly hope so), they love him, so they wish him good luck. Trachea Boi sits on the stage and launches into Lonestar's I'm Already There. This is one of those shamelessly sentimental songs that I really, on principle, should scoff at but deep inside I always melt when I hear it. How can I resist a song about a father telling his daughter through the phone how much he misses her? As for this performance, Trachea Boi finally blooms into life. Maybe it's because he knows that this could very well be his last week or perhaps his morale is boosted by the fact that he is cheating on his girlfriend with Cattle, but whatever it is, underneath his typically limited repertoire of oversinging, there is a genuine attempt at interpreting this song and portraying the feelings of heartfelt longing to be reunited with the ones he love (okay, the girlfriend can stay away). Therefore, the soaring vocals come off as heartfelt and even poignant towards the late refrains. I wish that Trachea Boi isn't so limited as a singer and performer - he has the same expression, nuance, and singing technique for every performance of his so far on the show - or that I haven't felt that he has plateaued in his potential, but I must admit that I really enjoy this performance of his. Dare I say it? Why, yes I do. He's the best in this round.

Randy Randy and Miss Paula agree. King Tut doesn't though because either he is jealous of the thought of someone shagging his precious Cattle or he won't get his new car from Uncle Nigel if the predetermined boot order is not followed, so he quickly says (softly) that Trachea Boi sang well but (loudly now) he finds the performance "cynical, gooey, syrupy" because it makes him feel like he's attending a Miss Universe show. He also says that Trachea Boi isn't "there" yet. And here I am thinking that Trachea Boi has finally arrived, hmmph. Sleazebag points out that there will be no swimsuit competition on this show (at least not until the lights go out) and then rubs cheeks with Trachea Boi. Sheesh, is everyone sleeping with everyone else on this show?

After the break, Sleazie announces that the show now moves from Nashville to Philly. He introduces a tribute clip to Leiber and Stoller. If this clip is designed to be as uninformative as possible, it succeeds at doing so very well. After listing down some examples of the duo's works, Sleazie points out that Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller are in the audience. They stand up to boast that their songs have been performed by Aretha Franklin and more before saying that they are willing to see their songs butchered on this show in hope of a "new generation" getting exposed to and loving their music. I can't help imagining that there is a group of songwriters from the 1960s and 1970s, led by Uncle Les (Neil Sedaka), fighting each other for a chance to offer their songs to be butchered on this show in hopes of getting enough dough to pay off their rent.

For the introductory clip, each of the Four will now answer their family members' messages for love. Cattle now sheds an invisible tear and sniffs before saying that she misses her sisters but they can keep the cow because she has a boyfriend now. No, not the boyfriend she had before the show, the boyfriend she is having now. And if that guy can't take it, he can listen to her now as she sings If You Don't Know Me By Now by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. Ah, and here I am thinking that irony is dead on the show. She lifelessly works her way through a song where she reassures her partner that she is never cheating on him so he should have trusted her - HA, HA, HA - while staring lifelessly at the camera. When she reaches the line about the both of them having "different moves", she actually lifts her hands and does this awkward... shake, as if she interprets "moves" in its literal sense. She sounds great on mp3 but utterly devoid of soul or passion in what is supposed to be a song suffused with turbulent emotions.

The judges think she suck like the cheating no-good Camilla Parker-Bovine that she is but because they want her to be on the show, they blame the "arrangement". The poor, poor band, and to think, they tried so hard to give some soul into the performance when Cattle has none!

Bo tells his parents that he loves them for putting up with him coming in late when he was arrested in a strip club for possession of cocaine - oops, I mean, when he came back late from a "gig". He says that he won't be the man he is without them. Oh, and they have the right to sell those "stuff" under his bed to Vonzell's brothers. Come on, we all know that Bo is the pimp daddy of hotness, right? So how perfect is it that he comes out in bling-bling shades, Pantened million-dollar hair, shirt unbuttoned enough to reveal that "Love Me, I Am Your Sex God" tattoo, a matching black suit, and of course, flip-flop slippers to launch into the O'Jays' For Love Of Money? Absolutely perfect!

Oh, baby. OH, BABY. OH FREAKING BABY. I have always thought that Bo is the solid, no-nonsense rocker while Conty Bint is the flashier showman. But with this performance, Bo has surpassed even Conty Bint's Bohemian Rhapsody in my book as the flashy performance that give me thrills to no end. Let me just say that if I have to describe every itty-gritty feeling I experience while watching Bo in this performance, you'll think I'm Miss Paula who is right now on her feet and jumping around like crazy. Then again, if Miss Paula is rumored to be sleeping with Bo instead of Corey, I suspect that people would be telling her, "You go, girl!" because Bo is hot and Bo can sing. Even more amazingly, Bo actually shows some credible attempt at rocking out some soul in this performance. I suspect that it's because of his voice - that sexy, husky masculine voice will fit various genres like blues, rock, and country like a glove - and how he knows how to use his voice and control it so well that he never has to oversing or undersing. Donald Trump approves, I'm sure. I approve of how he holds that mic stand, although I'm not sure about the dirty thoughts I have about how he is holding that mic stand during the performance.

After what seems like three hours of non-stop screaming and thunderous applause from the audience - how nice of Bo to ask for the band to receive some of the cheers too - Randy Randy manages to say something without being drowned out by the audience. Randy Randy and Miss Paula gush about how good the performance was. King Tut chuckles and says that he thought Donald Trump wrote that song. The baby-T'ed King Tut says that Bo's "image" is terrible but the performance, according to the man sporting the flat head haircut, is "terrific".

Vonzell tells her parents that she loves them, she misses them, the usual. She's a sweet lass but she doesn't have any interesting thing to say, does she? Her version of Thelma Houston's Don't Leave Me This Way is manic, frantic, fun, and while there are pitch problems and breathing mishaps galore, just perfect to wash away the memories of her horrific performance in the first round. If she is smart, Vonzell will go all-out on uptempo tunes next week where she has her smile and stage presence to mask the fact that she has a hard time singing in the correct key. Latoya and Rank Sinatra approve as they stand up with the others in the audience and applaud.

Randy Randy has rarely find a Vonzell performance that he doesn't like and he is no different in this instance. Miss Paula bizarrely commends Vonzell for "taking a risk", which is odd because Vonzell isn't taking a risk as much as she is doing what she does best. King Tut feels glad for her that the performance ended quickly because he thought she seemed overly frantic on stage. He noncommitantly says that this performance was better than Vonzell's previous one. This man seems to be interested in only pimping Cattle at this point except "Cattle doesn't love you, so stop making a fool of yourself, Tutty!"

As the show cuts to a commercial break, the camera zooms in on Miss Paula who is demonstrating to the other two judges what seems like a karate chop inspired by one too many watchings of Power Rangers. Sometimes that woman scares me.

Trachea Boi tells his parents that - what else? - he loves them, especially for bringing him to America where he is now living the "American dream". But what is exactly this "American dream"? Having a house? Singing in pubs? Cheating on his girlfriend with Cattle? I'm confused. He sings the same song as Cattle, If You Don't Know Me By Now, because they want the world to know that they are soulmates and they practised this song together in the bedroom. Like Cattle with her boyfriend, he wants his girlfriend to know that he is not cheating on her with Cattle so she should have trusted him when he comes home late at night reeking of beef patty and cigarette smoke. And boy, Trachea Boi sounds positively, stridently angry as he waves his hand in frustration and gestures at the camera with wagging fingers. He sounds really good here, even in the interpretation. After all, he is angry and this can be a song of anger as much as a song of resignation and recriminations.

Alas, while Miss Paula and Randy Randy give him his props, King Tut won't because he is not a blonde robotic farmgirl. So he once more, softly, says that Trachea Boi sang well but, loudly, says that the young man lacks soul to pull of the song. That may be true to some extent but if Trachea Boi has no soul, I don't know what Cattle lacks because she sounds a hundred times more lifeless than Trachea Boi in her performance. Poor Trachea Boi. He's going to be Nadia'ed tomorrow.

Sleazebag stands with the Four and recaps the episode - Cattle tanked like a paper-mache version of the Titanic, Vonzell is horrible first and later manages to redeem herself, Bo is at first boring and later the Pimp Daddy of Evil Hotness, and Trachea Boi is solidly listenable on both accounts. In terms of consistency, Trachea Boi is the best. In terms of entertainment, nothing beats the Pimp Daddy. Sleazebag asks people to vote and goes out. Vonzell nods to something she hears in her head, Bo winks at somebody off-camera, and Sleazebag talks to Cattle who isn't listening as the credits roll.

Results show. Sleazebag asks everyone to imagine beating 100,000 wannabes on this show (not that he means it literally, I'm sure, but the idea of using a baseball bat on some of the bad audition wannabes sure holds some appeal, I must say) and coming this close to winning the ultimate slavery-made-beautiful, Tamyra Gray style, title: American Idol. As we contemplate how Bo will pull off a Tamyra ballad in the finale ("Give me pot of coke and burn me some dollar, bitch, and we'll get high and see pink bunnies flying in the sky, yeah baby! Who says dream can't come true! I believe! Yeah, yeah, punk, now shut up or I'll your motherflying dreams-coming-true butt!"), here are the credits.

My husband points out to me how the guy in the credits resemble a very skinny King Tut. He's right. That means the credit sequence can be quite creepy. Let's see, King Tut goes into the elevator and as it goes up, he morphs into a woman and steps out on the stage to be cheered by everybody. If this isn't a depiction of King Tut on a date with Sleazebag, I don't know what is.

Ryan "BoHo #1" Sleazebag comes out on stage in shirt, suit, and a really nice tie with diagonal stripes. The camera cuts to the signs in the audience, focusing on one, "Cattle is our American Idol". I don't know why they are focusing so often on pro-Cattle signs. Why don't you ask King Tut? Sleazebag, who in the previous weeks all but go down on his knees to beg people to vote, now scolds people who voted for saying that they are responsible for sending someone home tonight. Here's an idea: let's do what he says and not vote altogether! The show will be forced to give twelve people the title and Sleazebag will be reduced to polishing his Hollywood Walk of Fame star for fifty cents per hour. And then he introduces the judges by saying, "And we know who they like!" Isn't that the truth! How... sad.

Sleazebag recaps the episode of last night and then invites the Four to murder the duet by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, Islands In The Stream. In a show rocked by sex scandals, it makes sense to have the contestants sing about making love to each other like islands washed by turbulent rapids of the river. The Four have no harmony with each other. The performance ends with Cattle and Trachea Boi holding hands and lifting their hands high, kinda like how Prince Charles and Missus Parker-Bowles will do before Princess Diana's grave on their wedding right, right before they say, "We've won, bitch!" and pee on the tombstone.

And then, a Ford commercial where Bo gets out of a Ford Whatever with zoned-out hairstyle best described as electrocution, Ace Ventura style. The other three ask him how he get that hair so he invites them to get into the car. Oh no, that is how those creepy strange men always get those innocent kiddies in trouble! Anyway, the Ford zooms off into a roller-coaster track in some futuristic city set to Elastica's Ready To Go. When the Ford stops, the other three have hair similar to Bo's. If this whole clip isn't a subliminal "Speed is Good - Embrace Bo's Drug Past Because He Is Supreme!" message, I don't know what is.

And now, the show decides to waste by getting people to ooh and aah over the Four's audition clips. We have seen the auditions by Vonzell's, Trachea Boi's, and Cattle's before, so the only purpose to watch them again is to laugh at how dowdy these people are before they get make-overs on the show. The only person whose audition clip is never shown until now is Bo. Of course, that is because back then they were all about the Conty Bint. Remember those times? Remember how Conty Bint condescendingly hoped that Bo would make it through after him because he knew there was only one slot for "rockers" on the show? Ah, good times, really, especially when Bo is now in the Final Four while Conty Bint is jamming with William Hung.

In the audition clip, Bo comes in, clean-shaven, into the judges' room in Florida. He says that he wants to be an American Idol because he believes that the show could use a "kick" of rock, soul, and blues. King Tut says that they had one in the previous season in the form of Rank Sinatra and Randy Randy giggles. Bo introduces himself as "I'm Harold but you can call me Bo!" No, Bo, you should say, "You must call me Bo!" Miss Paula gazes into his eyes and says dreamily, "I will call you Bo." Bo then launches into The Whippin' Post and the rest, as they say, is history. Sleazebag and Bo banter after the clip, in which Bo reveals that King Tut takes "a while" to stop calling him Harold. King Tut then launches into a scripted "No, he's not a drug addict!" speech by saying on TV that he thought Bo a "nice individual" with "nice attitude" when Bo first showed up in Florida.

Sleazebag now holds up a shiny black Marquis Jet card. He says that the Three who make it past this week will each get this card and be sent back to their hometown in style for the obligatory meet-the-locals sessions. Sleazie then holds up a one-way coach ticket and says that someone will be getting this ticket at the end of tonight. He then summons the Four down onto the dais. Quickly, he sends Bo back to the Grill. Cattle is safe too. She squeals and hops right into Bo's arms. Watch out, Bo's girlfriend, Cattle is a maneater. Vonzell can also go back to the Grill because Trachea Boi is eliminated tonight. Trachea Boi breathes deeply and smiles sadly when Vonzell hugs him. The eulogy clip plays, in which Trachea Boi says that he wants to reach out from the TV screen to "touch people". Hey, maybe someone can put that in the next sequel to The Ring. Sleazebag tells Trachea Boi that Trachea Boi has grown up - hey, he's sleeping with two women now, woo-hoo! - and he is a class act. As Trachea Boi sings If You Don't Know Me By Now, Cattle's tear-stricken boo-hooing face is flashed on the screen behind him. Beautiful, just beautiful. Nearly as funny is the sight of Bo and Vonzell smiling happily as Cattle bawls her eyes out and mouths "I love you" non-stop to Trachea Boi.

I wish that I am joking about Trachea Boi and Cattle cheating on their respective exes with each other but Trachea Boi's ex-girlfriend has recently posted some rather pointed messages on his official website saying that she and that young man are no longer an item, saying darkly, "Hollywood changes people and they forget the people in their lives who have been there from the start." She all but names Cattle as the Other Woman but the implications aren't that subtle. Cattle is no longer with her boyfriend, with rumors ranging from he dumping her when he found out about her and Trachea Boi to he dumping her because he was "jealous" of her success. You can join the dots, I'm sure.

Suffice to say, when it comes to scandals and soap-operatic moments, between Bo being the Pimp Daddy to the loving cuckolding twosome of Cattle and Trachea Boi, these people are, so to speak, already there. All we need to know is the real reason why Vonzell was crying after her first performance. I love this show all over again, did I tell you that?